by Oana Strătulă (Partner)
Together with Halloween, the holiday with witches and goblins, Black Friday represents another American concept recently implemented by retailers based in Romania who are eager to increase their sales volume during a very short time period1.
Traditionally, in its home country, Black Friday is organized on the last Friday of November which follows Thanksgiving Day and which opens the Christmas shopping season. However, considering that, at least for now, Thanksgiving Day has not entered on the list of holidays adopted by Romanians following the American model, Black Friday is not necessarily organized according to this benchmark.
Thus this year, it seems that we start celebrating Black Friday a week before the Americans, given the fact that some shops have announced that Black Friday will begin on November 22nd and, in the case of some retailers, it will last until December 1st. On the other hand, according to the legislation governing the promotional sales , there is no impediment that the discounts period to be extended to more than one day, so from this perspective Black Friday may represent a mere pretext for traders to start a discounts campaign.
What rules must be followed in the case of Black Friday discounts
The Government Ordinance no. 99/2000 on the merchandising of market products and services regulates several categories of sales at a reduced price, but, in regards to the period of the year when the Black Friday discounts take place, they fall mainly into the category of promotional sales.
Promotional sales are defined as those retail sales, cash and carry sales or provisions of market services that may take place at any time of the year, to the extent that the following conditions are met:
– the sales must be made at a reduced price, but not in loss;
– they should not result in an accelerated sale of a stock of goods which the trader will not reprovision afterwards, as it happens in case of liquidation or sell-off;
– to refer to the available or resupplied products, as well as to services sold or performed usually;
– the products and services promoted must be for sale during the entire announced period of promotional sales or the trader must inform the consumers that the offer is available only while the stock lasts;
In order to prevent the situation in which the discount prices are some purely fictive, the Ordinance 99/2000 establishes a series of rules for the setting and the publicity of prices which are to be followed by merchants. Thus, any merchant which announces a price discount should pertain it to the reference price charged in the same selling space for identical goods or services, during the past 30 days before the date on which the reduced price is applied. It is mandatory that all legal documents attesting the veracity of the reference price to be kept in order to be presented, whenever necessary, to the authorized control authorities.
Traders have the obligation to ensure that any price reduction announcement, expressed in absolute value or in percentage, is made visible, legible and unequivocally for each product or group of identical products, in one of the following ways:
– either by mentioning the new price, next to the previous price, crossed out;
– either by mentioning “new price”, “old price”, next to the appropriate amounts;
– either by mentioning the percentage of price reduction and also the new price which is to be presented next to the previous price, crossed out.
Last but not least, traders should keep in mind that any announcement of price discount which does not correspond to the actually charged discount compared to the reference price is considered a form of misleading advertising and punished according to the legal regulations in force.
1. This is a translation of the article published on November 20, 2013, in Business24.ro. For the Romanian original text, please visit this link : http://www.business24.ro/companii/stiri-companii/editorial-oana-stratula-avocat-black-friday-sfaturi-legale-pentru-a-nu-fi-pacalit-cu-false-promotii-1538143